By VANGELIS ARAGIANNIS, Apopsy, July 2006
There are quite a few musicians hailing from India who have made a remarkable career in the US jazz scene during the last years. The most renowned among them are pianist Vijay Iyer, sax player Rudresh Mahanthappa and drummer Sunny Jain. A recent addition to this list is pianist Ramona Borthwick, who already makes her presence perceptible with her recording debut “A New Leaf”, just like the new leaf that “unfurls like a phrase on a staff” in her poem on the CD sleeve.
Ramona was born in Bombay, where she studied classical piano, discovered jazz while in her teens and settled in Boston after some years of residence in Canada. Compared to the three artists mentioned above she is more inclined to mainstream and less allusive to her birthplace’s tradition. The album is throughout dominated by lyricism and Borthwick’s sentimental yet controlled playing. When she backs the piano with her vocals, she tends to enrich the music with latin feeling. This becomes more profound on the two tracks featuring Esperanza Spalding’s impressive scat vocals. Borthwick’s quintet also features her husband Noel Borthwick on guitar and the outstanding Phil Grenadier (Larry Grenadier, the bassist in Brad Mehldau Trio is his brother) on trumpet, mainly known by his superb work on Bruno Raberg’s recent albums.